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Interview with Brendan MacFarlane at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Paris-based architecture firm Jakob + MacFarlane specializes in making the impossible possible. Established in 1992 by partners Brendan MacFarlane and Dominique Jakob, the firm balances advanced technology with intuitive concepts to sculpt inconceivable forms and curves that have marked the landscape of France over the past 20 years with iconic buildings such as the FRAC in Orléans, les Docks – Cité de la Mode in Paris and the Cube Orange in Lyon.

At the recent Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, we spoke to Brendan MacFarlane about the firm’s current projects. As for many other creative professionals, 3D printing is becoming a point of interest. “We are seriously considering taking on a robot and getting more involved in this technology where we can start 3D printing large elements ourselves,” MacFarlane told us.

This interest in cutting-edge technology is unsurprising given the firm’s use of digital technology in innovative projects such as the FRAC (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain), which was completed in Orléans, France, last year. During construction of the FRAC, the firm confronted several technology-related issues that have changed the way they work, notably inspiring office-wide collaboration on the virtual model. However, such projects challenge French architecture traditions, which MacFarlane notes are focused on preserving cultural heritage with no support for the experimental.

Although defined by a passion for technology and innovation, when asked about their methodology, MacFarlane goes back to the basics: “We start with a problem or a project and we try and eliminate preconceptions. Essentials and fundamentals are quite important to us.”


Orange Cube by Jakob + MacFarlane, Lyon (France), 2010, Image © Nicolas Borel


The Turbulences FRAC by Jakob + MacFarlane, Orléans, (France), 2013


Docks – City of Fashion and Design by Jakob + MacFarlane, Paris (France), 2008, Image © Nicolas Borel


100 Logements Herold by Jakob + MacFarlane, Paris (France), 2008